In January 2020, filmmaker Sean Gallagher traveled to Cambodia with a camera, drone, and a mission: to create a film revealing the impacts of deforestation. Riding on the backs of motorbikes driven by local activists, Gallagher spent several weeks venturing deep into protected forests in Cambodia to film bulldozers pushing down trees, and intentionally lit fires, turning the land into a charred, barren wasteland.
“The official line is that there isn’t any large-scale deforestation happening at the moment in protected areas,” said Gallagher, referring to claims made this year by the Cambodian government’s Ministry of Environment. But Gallagher said he got most of his footage either directly inside or next to two protected areas in Cambodia: Beng Per Wildlife Sanctuary and Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary.
“We discovered logging yards where there were thousands upon thousands of trees that have been cut down,” Gallagher said. “I was able to get pictures, and footage of that and those images and the video footage [are] some of the first … to document some of this large-scale logging which is taking place within these protected areas.”